2019 Perfect Game WWBA: Day 2 Notebook
JUPITER, Fla. — The second day of Perfect Game’s WWBA World Championship was delayed a bit by typical Florida rain, but there was plenty of talent to be seen after the rain passed away, with a number of impressive pitching performances being the highlight of the day.
Well-known arms showed off the stuff that scouts have begun to expect of them, and there were performances by a few lesser-know prospects that solidly placed them on the map.
Here are some of the standouts from Day 2. If you missed our Day 1 notebook, you can check that out here.
Trey Gibson | RHP | Grafton HS, Yorktown, Va.
Travel Ball Team: Richmond Braves 2020 National
Gibson was one of the highlights of the WWBA to this point, putting on a terrific pitching display against Royals Scout Team 2020 and certainly putting himself solidly on the national radar. A 6-foot-4, 215-pound righthander, Gibson began with a solid crowd of scouts thanks to some high profile players sharing the field, but word quickly started to leak out during his outing, and more evaluators came to see what the buzz was about.
Gibson showcased an impressive four-pitch arsenal and polished feel for pitching out of a strong, physical frame. Gibson doesn’t have the most fluid delivery—as it includes cross-firing action, some effort and a bit of stiffness—but it worked more than well enough for him to toss six innings and rack up 12 strikeouts to just two walks.
Gibson worked with a fastball that sat in the 90-93 mph range before ticking down to 88-91 in the middle and later innings, though the pitch did prove to be hittable when he left it over the middle of the plate. What separated Gibson from many high school players at this stage was his feel for his secondary offerings.
Gibson threw a pair of breaking balls: the former an 83-87 firm slider that some evaluators called a cutter and a more traditional three-quarter breaking curveball that featured two-plane break and solid depth. The latter is the better breaking ball at the moment, as the slider backed up on him at times to his arm side, though the firmness of the pitch still kept opposing hitters off-balance.
In addition to his two breaking balls, Gibson showed impressive feel for an 82-85 mph changeup that featured tremendous depth and sinking action. He used the pitch frequently and doubled up with it even against same-sided hitters and it might be his best secondary offering already.
With a pair of secondaries that easily look like 55-grade offerings—the curveball and changeup—and a great frame, Gibson will be followed closely next spring and might have the Liberty coaching staff a bit more nervous than they were Friday morning.
Nate Wohlgemuth | RHP | Owasso (Okla.) HS
Travel Ball Team: Braves Scout Team/Team Elite
Unlike Gibson, Wohlgemuth was a name that the scouting community was very familiar with entering the day, as the 5-foot-11, 195-pound righty has been throwing premium velocity for years now.
Friday night’s outing against DBacks Langley Blaze was one of his best of the year, as the Arkansas commit threw a complete, seven-inning no-hitter. He racked up 14 strikeouts and walked just two batters on 99 pitches, throwing 63 percent of them for strikes.
Wohlgemuth’s heater was electric from the jump, as he opened up in the 93-95 mph range and touched 97 mph on the final pitch of his first inning of work. The fastball explodes out of a compact, three-quarter arm action and was completely overwhelming to hitters on this occasion. It’s mostly a straight pitch, with occasional arm-side running action, but the velocity alone was enough to generate whiff after whiff, with batters routinely expanding the zone high and waving through it.
Wohlgemuth also showed a 72-78 mph curveball that had three-quarter shape and two-plane break, with solid bite and late action at its best. At the lower velocity range, the pitch would get a bit loopy and lacked the finish necessary to make it a plus offering, but he snapped it off well for the most part.
Wohlgemuth sprinkled in an occasional 85-87 mph changeup, but the pitch is in its nascent stages at the moment, and he didn’t show much feel for it.
The questions with Wohlgemuth will come down to size and strike throwing, as he tends to be erratic with both his fastball and curveball, letting the former get away and over the catcher into the backstop at times, and spiking the latter. Hitters at the next level will be able to spit on his fastball when it’s not in the zone more consistently, so he’ll need to refine his control and command, but there’s no doubting the electricity that he has in his right hand.
Cody Howard | RHP | The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Committed: Baylor (Class of 2021)
Travel Ball Team: Banditos Scout Team 2020
The No. 97 prospect on our 2021 high school ranking, Howard had a solid showing Friday morning before weather delayed much of the day’s action.
Pitching against the East Cobb Yankees, Howard showed a solid mix of three pitches, but it was the fastball that proved most difficult for opposing batters to square up. Howard sat mostly in the 86-88 mph range early in the outing, but generated lots of whiffs with the pitch and dialed it up to 90 mph on one occasion in the second inning.
As he progressed, his velocity dipped down into the 85-86 mph range, but Howard showed good feel to land the pitch for strikes and changed the eye level of hitters regularly.
Howard also threw a 77-81 mph changeup that had solid sinking action and fading life, which he located well and a breaking ball that varied in shape and velocity from 71-79 mph. The breaking ball lacked bite and hung up at times, and will need to be sharpened in the future to project as an average offering.
Howard throws out of a low, three-quarter arm slot, with some effort and works from the first base side of the rubber, with a high hand pump in unison with his leg lift.
Brody Moore | SS | Pickens HS, Jasper, Ga.
Committed: Coastal Carolina
Travel Ball Team: East Cobb Yankees
Moore showed a solid all-around game Friday morning against Banditos Scout Team 2020, hitting a hard double to deep left field against Cody Howard and also handling shortstop. His double hit off the top of the left field fence and came just a foot shy of a home run.
At shortstop, Moore had one particularly nice defensive play when a slow chopper was hit towards him slightly up the middle.
The ball took a sharp in-between hop, which Moore gloved without a problem before making a strong and accurate throw to first base while on the run and off-balance. Despite not having his feet set, Moore showed solid arm strength.
Listed at 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, Moore has a solid frame and some room for more strength in the future, but showed current feel for both sides of the ball Friday morning.
Dante Chirico | RHP | Dutch Fork HS, Irmo, S.C.
Travel Ball Team: Ohio Warhawks
An uncommitted righthander out of South Carolina, Chirico showed off a few impressive pitches in a short relief outing Friday, when he threw 1.2 frames against South Charlotte Panthers 2020 and struck out four batters.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 196-pounds, Chirico is filled out physically without a ton of future projection, but he touched 93 mph with his fastball and showed strong ability to spin a breaking ball. His curveball ranged from 75-78 mph, with sharp, biting action and shape that ranged from 11-to-5 to three-quarters. The pitch had a high spin rate—around 2700-2900 rpm—and plenty of depth and projects as a plus offering in the future if he can figure out how to land it consistently.
Chirico overthrew the offering at times and buried it in the dirt, though the depth of the pitch still managed to generate whiffs when it was below the zone.
Matt Heavner | SS | North Lincoln HS, Lincolnton, N.C.
Committed: North Carolina State (Class of 2022)
Travel Ball Team: South Charlotte Panthers 2020
Heavner has plenty of time before MLB scouts start seriously bearing down on him, but he didn’t look like he was three years away from being draft-eligible on Friday. Leading off for South Charlotte Panthers 2020, Heavner went 2-for-4 with a deep double to left field and a single. While he did show some swing-and-miss at times and struck out in one at-bat, Heavner showed some solid pop out of a 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame that has plenty of room for added physicality in the future.
The sophomore infielder also showed some fluid actions in the dirt, ranging up the middle to his glove side on one fairly routine ground ball, and making a strong, accurate throw across the diamond.
It was a brief look, but Heavner is one to keep an eye on, particularly given his North Carolina State commitment—the coaching staff in Raleigh has done a solid job with shortstops (Trea Turner and Will Wilson most notably) in recent years.
Alex Freeland | SS | Mariner HS, Cape Coral, Fla.
Committed: Central Florida
Travel Ball Team: Braves Scout Team/Team Elite
Another shortstop who impressed with the glove Friday was Freeland, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound switch-hitter committed to Central Florida. Freeland showed plenty of agility up the middle, which was somewhat surprising given his large, strong frame and did a terrific job making plays off-balance and throwing with accuracy and power from multiple arm angles.
Freeland fielded two ground balls up the middle that looked like they could have been singles that snuck into the outfield, but he reacted with a quick first step and covered plenty of ground with long strides, before making a pair of slick plays on the run and throwing from a low arm slot with a quick exchange to convert the out.
His instincts, body control and arm strength all stood out in this look, though he went 0-for-3 at the plate with a pair of punchouts.
Jordan Walker | 3B | Decatur (Ga.) HS
Travel Ball Team: Braves Scout Team/Team Elite
One of the better hit-and-power combos in the 2020 class, Walker went 2-for-3 Friday night against DBacks Langley Blaze, showing off an aggressive approach, solid bat-to-ball skills and the strength that comes with a 6-foot-5, 212-pound frame that gives him massive upside.
In his first at-bat of the game, Walker jumped on the first pitch he saw—an 88-mph fastball—and pulled a sharply hit ground ball through the left side of the infield for a single. He attacked the first pitch in his second at-bat as well, but rolled over on a breaking ball and grounded out to shortstop. In his third and final at-bat, Walker hit another loud ball to the pull side, a low line drive that came off the bat at 105 mph.
Walker runs well for his size and made one routine play at third base with no problem. He continues to make consistent loud contact at the biggest events of the year and is solidifying himself among the elite hitters of the 2020 prep class—if he hadn’t done so already.
Aidan Curry | RHP | Fordham Preparatory School, N.Y.
Travel Ball Team: Northeast Pride Scout Team
Curry tossed three scoreless innings for Northeast Pride Scout Team in their 6-2 victory over Knights/eXposure Baseball on Friday morning. The prep righthander needed 43 pitches to navigate his way through three frames, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out five batters.
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound pitcher is totally in control on the mound. For a guy who has a large, lanky frame, he has a compact, repeatable delivery. He works from a three-quarters arm slot with good extension. Curry has natural angle on his pitches and works down with consistency. He is able to stay over the mound well, showing a consistent arm stroke in the back. His easy motion helps him to pound the strike zone with all three of his offerings.
His fastball tops out at 88 mph. He is able to work it to both sides of the plate, and keeps it down with good angle on it. While he was able to command it, Curry did begin to spike the pitch from time to time after his initial inning of work. His easy operation and arm speed should help the pitch to develop with more velocity over time.
His main breaking ball is a curveball in the lower-70s. It has consistent 11-to-6 shape and helped him to induce soft contact. Curry landed the pitch for strikes, and was able to use it to expand the strike zone on hitters as well. Curry also shows feel for a changeup with arm side fade. More impressively, he doesn’t slow his arm down and is able to sink the ball below the hitting zone off his fastball. It generated swings and misses, showing good depth and allowing him to give hitters a change of pace.
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Najer Victor | RHP | East Ridge HS, Clement, Fla.
Commitment: Florida State
Travel Ball Team: Power Baseball 2020
Victor gave up two runs in his 2.2 innings of work for Power Baseball 2020 against Dallas Patriots 18U Stout. He gave up three hits and walked three but showed why he is an arm to watch for the 2020 prep class with his power arm and raw stuff.
The righthander showed premium arm speed from the get-go on Friday. He is both strong and athletic on the mound, making the most of his 6-foot-1 frame. Victor worked quickly but found more success when he slowed his tempo down. He works from a three-quarters arm slot and has an athletic delivery. Victor didn’t throw many strikes, as his upper half rushed out a bit thanks to his lead leg. This caused his arm to lag behind him, especially when throwing his breaking ball. In addition, Victor didn’t get on top of his fastball and threw a bit uphill, causing his heater to miss up and out of the strike zone.
Victor’s arm strength allows him to dial his fastball up to 95 mph. After his first inning, he was able to dial his fastball down to the lower-90s, where he was able to throw more strikes down in the zone. Victor also had a good breaking ball working at times, registering in the lower-70s with 12-to-6 shape and late action. The shape and action of the pitch made it an offering that should be valuable as he matures and gets more experience. The breaking ball allowed him to get some swings and misses, and his arm speed helps him to finish it out in front when his delivery is under control. Victor did throw a couple of changeups, but it is a developing pitch that lags behind his other two.
Chase Davis | OF | Franklin HS, Elk Grove, Calif.
Travel Ball Team: MLB Breakthrough Series 2020
Davis had a hit in three at-bats for MLB Breakthrough Series 2020 in their 9-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team. The right fielder has plenty of tools and took good at-bats during the game, crushing an RBI triple in the top of the third inning on the eighth pitch of his at-bat.
The outfielder has plenty of bat speed and sound swing mechanics. Davis has an athletic stance at the plate, with some pre-swing hand movement which helps him to stay loose. He uses a small leg lift to get his swing started and is able to get his bat on plane rather quickly. This ability get his bat efficiently into the strike zone allowed him to make plenty of contact and foul off some tough pitches. He was under control at the plate, and benefited from having his bottom half and top half sync up with relative ease. Davis showed off good raw power with some loft to his swing as well.
Davis isn’t an above-average runner, but moves well under way. He is best suited to right field and has a strong arm with natural carry.
Joe Mack | 3B | Williamsville East, Williamsville, NY
Travel Ball Team: Padres Scout Team/ECB
Mack played third base and batted cleanup for Padres Scout Team/ECB on Friday, collecting a 2-1 victory over All Star Baseball Academy 2020. He did go hitless in his two at-bats, but Mack’s tools and actions in the field did stand out.
At the plate, Mack is a bit more spread out with his legs and has a high-hand set. As he drops his hands, he uses a leg kick to stay back and start his swing. He is strong and has good hands which allow him to generate plus bat speed. His strength from his core helps him to fire his hands through the zone, although at times his swing was too rotational, causing him to swing and miss.
The infielder showed solid actions at third base with his glove. He came in nicely on a few grounders, and showed off a strong arm. While it has natural carry, it was a bit inaccurate on throws to first base.
Carlos Rodriguez | RHP | Miami Christian, Miami, Fla.
Travel Ball Team: Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team
Rodriguez allowed one earned run across two innings for Milwaukee Brewer Scout Team in their 9-4 loss against MLB Breakthrough Series 2020. The righthander allowed one hit and walked one while striking out five batters along the way.
Rodriguez makes the most of his 6-foot, 180-pound frame. He works from a three-quarter arm slot and has a sound, consistent delivery and arm circle. It is repeatable and he stays balanced throughout. Rodriguez is able to get on top of his pitches and generates strength from his lower half and hip rotation in his delivery.
His arm strength was on display, showing the ability to dial up his fastball to 95 mph. While he was aggressive with it, his command seemed to waiver from time to time. At its best, the heater had some life on it and his downhill angle made it difficult for batters to square up.
Rodriguez’s best secondary offering was his changeup, a pitch he showed impressive feel for. He was able to throw it from the same slot as his fastball and didn’t slow his motion down. The pitch registers in the lower-80s and has good separation from his fastball, featuring arm-side fade and some sinking action down in the zone. It generated plenty of swings and misses while also being an offering he can land for strikes.
His third offering was his breaking ball, a low-70s curveball. The pitch had some shape to it but didn’t have hard downward action. It tended to get loopy and even popped out of his hand on occasion. When he was able to spin it properly, the pitch did get batters to swing and miss with its 11-to-6 shape.